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Attitude towards foreigners in Russia
January 23, 2007 14:30

The attitude towards foreigners in Russia is complex. First of all, the generation gap is particularly evident here. People of the elder generation brought up in conditions of international isolation are more apt to be suspicious about foreigners. The youths who have seen the world (at least on TV) usually display curiosity and interest. However, all age groups feel a certain kind of ethnicism, sometimes turning into arrogance.

On the other hand, the well-known Russian hospitality and desire to make a good impression often compel Russians to lay themselves out for foreigners. In crisis years, when the country was at the verge of hunger, Russian hosts tried to organize a splendid reception for their foreign guests in order to express respect and demonstrate hospitality of the country. When the American writer Mark Twain visited Russia in 1866, he wrote that no country had ever greeted them with such kindliness – in Russia they felt that it was enough to be an American and this was the only “visa” they needed.

Nevertheless, there is a range of problems linked with Russian stereotypes about foreigners. For instance, it is widely considered that all foreigners are rich. There are two types of prices in Russian hotels, restaurants, and museums – for foreigners and Russians. Many Russian people cannot understand the desire of saving money in those who earn 10 times more than they do.

There is a joking proverb in Russia, paraphrasing an utterance from a popular book written in the 20`s years of the 20th century: “A car is not luxury but the means of transportation”. It sounds as follows: “A foreigner is not luxury but the means of transportation”. Indeed, in recent years there have appeared many energetic young women taking their foreign acquaintances only as a chance to emigrate. Here one should be careful but keep in mind that this type of people constitutes the minority while the majority of people will deal with foreigners selflessly or on conditions of mutual benefit.

One of the researches, aimed at exploring people’s first associations linked with this or that nation has shown the following results. Most often Russian people associated Americans with hamburger, smile, Coca-Cola, money-dollar, business, and then – patriotism, narrow mind, lack of education, and openness. Britons caused such associations as fog, the Queen, London, buckram style, tea, Sherlock Holms.

On the whole, there are two extremities of the Russian attitude towards foreigners at the moment. On the one hand, some Russian people think that all Americans live like the characters of the TV soaper Santa Barbara. They all have two cars for each member of the family, huge swimming pools in their private spacious villas, incredible sums of money which let them satisfy all the absurd needs.

On the other hand, some Russian can feel a certain kind of Russian arrogant despite towards foreigners, and think that comers from abroad do not deserve being accepted to the circle of Russians and consider foreigners obtuse persons, narrow-minded, uneducated, and too mercantile.



The Red Russo by Nonnoc

A few dollars by pixitha

Hamburger by LilleLine

Translation: Lavrentyeva Natalya


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